Accessibility statement

Brief psychological therapies 

There is substantial evidence that high-intensity psychological interventions, such as therapist delivered cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), are effective for a wide range of mental health problems. However, high-intensity psychological treatments delivered by a highly trained mental health professional in a one-to-one format over a long period of time are resource intensive and have limited availability in the NHS.

Low-intensity psychological therapies differ from high-intensity psychological treatments in that they tend to use less complex treatments, are often shorter in duration, and can be delivered by people who do not have high-intensity training qualifications. If these less resource intensive treatments are clinically and cost-effective, they may be able to increase the availability of psychological treatments in the NHS.

A core research activity of the Mental Health and Addictions Research Group (MHARG) is to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of these low-intensity treatments in the form of randomised trials and evidence syntheses. Researchers within this theme also apply start-of-the-art methodological and statistical approaches to large routine-practice datasets of services that deliver brief treatments (such as the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies initiative) to examine questions of clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and equity.


BALM: Behavioural Activation for Low mood and Anxiety in Male NHS Frontline Workers

The BALM Programme aims to develop, deliver and evaluate a gender-sensitised Behavioural Activation programme as an early intervention for low mood and anxiety in male frontline NHS workers.

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Community Pharmacies Mood Intervention Study (CHEMIST): A Feasibility and Pilot Study

The study aims to evaluate the delivery of brief psychological support via community pharmacies to people living with long-term health conditions who will be at an increased risk of developing depression.

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COBRA (Cost and Outcome of BehaviouRal Activation): A Randomised Controlled Trial of Behavioural Activation versus Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

The COBRA trial will compare the cost and the outcome of the therapies in order to find out which one of the treatments will be most useful for the treatment of depression.

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CASPER PLUS: Collaborative care in screen positive elders with major depressive disorders.

In this study we will conduct a large scale randomised trial of the effectiveness of screening and low intensity psychosocial interventions for older people (over 65s) with moderate to severe depression.

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The SHARD Trial

The SHARD Trial examined a self-help booklet for older people with subthreshold (low severity) depression. Funded by the National Institute for Health Research.

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In this study we conducted a randomised controlled trial looking at the clinical and cost effectiveness of a “bespoke smoking cessation” intervention for people with severe mental ill health such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

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OCTET: Obsessive Compulsive Treatment Efficiency Trial

In this study we will conduct a randomised trial looking at the clinical and cost effectiveness of two self-help treatments (Guided Self-Help and Computerised CBT) compared to a waiting list control for people with OCD.

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Completed projects

CASPER: Collaborative care and active surveillance for screen-positive elders with sub-clinical depression: a pilot study and definitive and randomised evaluation

The CASPER trial examined a treatment called Collaborative Care for older people with subthreshold (low severity) depression. We are currently carrying out an extended follow-up with participants from the CASPER Trial.

Funded by: National Institute for Health Research HTA.

CASPER site.

REEACT: the Randomised Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Acceptability of Computerised Therapy

REEACT is a randomised controlled trial which aims to compare two types of computerised cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) packages (one free-to-use and one commercial) to see if there are any additional benefits of offering this treatment to the care that people already receive from their GP.

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COBID: A feasibility trial of behavioural activation to improve depression for people with substance misuse

The aim of this study is to find out whether psychological therapies are effective for people with substance misuse. This study will investigate how many people with substance use problems and depression are willing to engage with brief psychological therapy, how many complete this, and what participants think about this psychological treatment. We also want to find out if participants who benefit from treatment have certain things in common; for example their use of alcohol or drugs or their level of dependence on substances.

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Early parenting interventions for families with young children showing severe attachment problems: an integrated evidence synthesis

Attachment, the relationship between caregiver and child, is a crucial factor in an infant's ability to develop healthy relationships. Research has identified different types of attachment relationships.

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